Why This Canadian Quit Microsoft to Join an Unproven Startup in Toronto

Two years ago a young woman named Jaclyn Konzelmann left Waterloo to join Microsoft in Seattle. Initially it was an amazing experience, she says, but it didn’t take long for her to fly back to Canada and join five-person startup ShopLocket.

Jaclyn went from having a well paying job to take a massive pay cut and sleeping on air mattress in Toronto.

The mechatronics engineering graduate’s job at Microsoft was her first real foray into the software industry. She says her first year at Microsoft was great: “I would wake up every morning looking forward to going into the office,” she writes. “Life was amazing.”

But that euphoria lasted only one year, Jaclyn explains. Then she became unhappy with life and the culture at Microsoft. She lists six things that drove her away.

1. Employees at Microsoft get rewarded for visibilty, not tangible contributions. Her inbox was flooded with thousands of spammy status updates from employees working on projects completely unrelated to her; she was expected to write these useless emails also.

2. Upper management actually told Jaclyn that the optimal personality to work at Microsoft was that of a robot. He told her people who are not very warm, open, or friendly work best in the company culture. She refused to become a robot.

3. The annual review cycle takes up four months of the year, Jaclyn says. And the way that Microsoft structures it, newcomers are “set up for mediocrity.” In essence, like the status updates everyone is supposed to send, the whole ordeal is a colossal waste of time and energy.

4. People on her team started leaving, either quitting or being pulled to other projects. She got stuck on a boring old project in a ghost town of an office with empty hallways while managers held “secret meetings offsite.”

5. Microsoft spent several weeks trying to make one small decision: an argument over text casing for user generated content strings. The never ending debate continued to rage on a month after Jaclyn quit. Nothing was actually getting done there.

6. She stopped learning anything meaningful. Her job became about “creating processes” versus accomplishing purposeful objectives and learning new things.

Canadian startup ShopLocket used its freshly raised $1 million to bring Jaclyn on board as director of business development. She says she “couldn’t be happier” now. Hopefully that euphoria lasts longer than one year this time.

Read her full story on Tumblr here.